Leaving the dispatch pile and fresh out of new packaging, is ‘Child’s Play’, a reboot to the original from over 30 years ago. The day and age we are now in does mean there are changes for the killer doll but do the films’ upgrades flourish or malfunction?
Single mother Karen (Aubrey Plaza) finds it tough working and bringing up her teenage son Andy (Gabriel Bateman), who isn’t coping with their recent move well. In the lead up to his birthday, Karen gives Andy a returned Buddi toy; a doll equipped with a multitude of home and play features, but this specific model fosters a worrying connection to his owner and soon his system is replaced with a thirst for murder.
No longer part of the cult franchise begun in 1988, this redo has the red haired Chucky no longer possessed by a serial killer which is a shame and it goes some way in making the film feel like a ridiculous ‘Black Mirror’ episode. The screenwriter Tyler Burton Smith was clearly angling for a link to the current climate of new-fangled gadgets people are so accustomed to and along the way there are bumpy patches in the tone, either veering from dumb comedic aspects to more stalk-filled nightmare visions that wouldn’t be amiss in ‘Annabelle’.
However, this is not a defect movie, on the most part the silly humour is wired finely to the mainframe alongside bloody horror coding and chips of tension. At times, the deaths caused by a faulty Buddi are reminiscent of the ‘Final Destination’ films, the fairly outlandish and gory kills racking up and providing 50/50 hilarity and squeamish fright. It goes without saying that this film won’t be for everyone but if you want to view something with its tongue firmly planted in its cheek and you enjoy madcap terror, then you cannot do wrong by watching ‘Child’s Play’.
Sure the plot is predictable from beat to beat but there is a nostalgic atmosphere throughout; the growth of a lonely child rising with new friends helps make this update on a late 80’s flick work well. Smoke, blue tinged back-lit sets and a playful score make this movie feel like it’s from the past in the best possible way, which is all the more surprising considering how much of a part technology has to play through the narrative.
There are a couple of great scenes gift-wrapped with tension and one driverless joyride will drive you to the brink of unease, a point where you’ll almost finish rooting for the sadistic toy and stop finding him oddly adorable. This weird response is down to the fun puppetry on display but also thanks to the wonder of Mark Hamill who provides a sharp knifes edge of murderous intent with soft pricks of amusement and unsettling cutesy vocals. Bateman is a delightful modern spin on the typical 80’s kid, he even looks the part in his red ‘E.T’ Elliott inspired top whilst Plaza impresses by stepping away from her trademark deadpan persona and playing a concerned mother with flexes of sarcasm.
Chucky is spiced up with a powerful checklist of AI infused aspects and his serious attachment problem make for a gleeful, enjoyable horror romp. It may not be the golden item to recommend at a Black Friday sale but it’s great, great fun.